Archive for September, 2012

Finally! Some Book Project Sneak Peeks…

One of the things our publisher does is have each of their authors create a short video about their book. A movie trailer of sorts – but for a book.

Artisan suggested we hire a little film/editing crew to do it, but like true DIYers we took it as a fun challenge to see how much we could do ourselves. So we came up with an outline, wrote a little script, hired a local video genius to shoot it for us (who also happens to be our brother in law) and edited it ourselves in Final Cut Pro back in March. And now that we’re two months away from the official book release date (Nov 6th, aka Election Day) we’re finally allowed to share it! Wahoo.

We had to finish the video so early because our publisher needed it for a spring sales conference in March, so as soon as we got back from Hawaii the pressure was on (see how bare the trees are in this pic?). Thankfully all of the projects were already finished for when we shot all of the book photography over three weeks at our house in February, so one day of shooting video and setting up little impromptu vignettes wasn’t too tricky. It was actually really fun.

The funniest thing is that we handed in our outline for all of the projects in the book about a year before this video was shot, so finally seeing the projects in real life in a polished format like this (since it was well before we saw any final book proofs) was kind of surreal. I guess it’s akin to baking a cake for a year or two and finally getting to taste it.

The weirdest part by far was recording our nerdy little voice over (while sitting in a closet using our iPhones) and layering that in there. Allow us to share this reenactment so you can picture it (Burger was playing the role of “Supervisor”):

And for those of you at work who can’t watch videos, here are a few still shots (there are a lot more sneak peeks of various projects in the video though):

We’re so relieved to finally be able to reveal some of the projects in the book – even if it’s only a small portion for now. Thankfully in less than two months the book will be out (you can pre order it here) so all those kitties will be out of the bag. Can’t wait! Free the kitties!

Have you guys ever written a video script and attempted to make a somewhat polished little YouTube ditty? It’s kinda fun, right? The clothesline concept was all John’s – and we love how it allowed us to squeeze in a few bonus project peeks. I’d say previewing 15 projects in a little over a minute is pretty speedy, indeed. You know we like to cram stuff in there (slash are terrible secret keepers). Woot!



Accidental Upgrade: Our New DSLR Camera

You guys get extra credit for being especially perceptive, because as some of you have noticed, we got a new camera (we weren’t paid or perked, we just bought it with our own benjamins for reasons I’m about to explain).

It’s a Nikon 3200 – basically the latest version of our previous DSLR, the Nikon 3000 that we got back in early 2010. The reason for the upgrade? Well, let’s just say the resident klutz around here (that’s me) finally klutz-ed it up a bit too much for our poor camera to handle. Can I get a womp womp?

It actually happened back when I was working on the deck. I was cutting my stair stringers and in a heat/sawdust induced haze, didn’t realize that I had set the camera down on the other end of my 2 x 10 board. Long story short, the vibrations of the saw subtly shook the board until the camera shimmied right off the edge and onto the concrete (I was looking down at my cut, so I was completely surprised by this turn of events). Here, allow me to reenact it for you.

It was not my finest moment. In fact it was up there with failing inspection when I had to tell Sherry the camera had fallen on the ground because of some dumb cutting incident.

This is not the first time this camera has been dropped. Considering the activities that we photograph regularly (we’ve taken about 300 photos a week for the past 2+ years with this guy, which adds up to over 39,000 photos!), it’s had its fair share of bumps, drops, paint splats, dirt smears, and sawdust-ings. But I guess this particular incident was too much for it to handle and suddenly we could only take pictures in manual focus mode. Awesome. Just kidding, it stunk (auto focus is amazingly helpful for us since we often grab pics of things in action- like Clara & Burger, and don’t have time to auto focus each time).

I called our local camera shop and learned they’d have to send it off to Nikon to repair it. And assuming it’s a fixable issue, our max cost would be about $150. Not too bad… except that it’d take 6-8 weeks to complete. And since we quickly realized we couldn’t survive (aka: blog) for two months without a camera, we thought about:

So ultimately we took it as a sign from above that we should get ourselves a new one after over two and a half years of faithful use of our older one. We’re still going to get the old one fixed though, just to always have a backup DSLR on hand (so that if we should ever break the new one we won’t feel the same we-have-a-blog-and-can’t-be-without-a-camera-for-two-months pressure to buy yet another camera ever again). Hooray.

We decided to stick with Nikon (we’ve been very happy with our first DSLR) and go with something in the D3000 series (since we weren’t looking to relearn everything and it meant the 50mm lens we bought last summer would still work on our new camera). Of course our new camera wasn’t cheap (we got it for $699 on Amazon – it was about $250 more than our previous one) but at this point we’re looking at it as a necessary business expense. And the D3200 offered some nice improvements – like better shooting in low light, a more accurate auto white balance, and my favorite: HD video (hence the improvement some of you have noticed in our latest videos).

Yep, the image above is a video screenshot, not a still photo (which is a huge improvement from our Flip cam’s capabilities) and it gets me all hot and bothered. And not just because of my sexy wife.

We’re still getting the hang of shooting video with a DSLR. It does some things much better than our old FlipHD – like more true-to-life color and a wider lens – but we’re still working on mastering the audio and autofocus capabilities, so we’re hardly experts quite yet. But I actually shot a little side-by-side comparison just to see exactly how the two video cameras stacked up. How did I accomplish this little feat of geekery? It looked something like this – Nikon in one hand, Flip in the other.

And here’s what the video looked like when I edited them together:

So as much as we’re excited by the new features, we’re still definitely getting the hang of it. But overall we’re really happy with the new camera. Here are a few of the photos we took (all without white-balancing or worrying about lighting like we did with our prior camera):

It’s definitely a great upgrade for our blog (hooray for less time spent white balancing and worrying about low-light photos – and of course upgraded wider-angle videos are a big plus) and it’s also a nice little upgrade for our family (we shoot a ton of photos & videos of Clara and Burger). It almost makes that whole John-dropped-and-broke-something-again thing seem like a good thing. Right Sherry?

Psst- On another subject entirely, Sherry wants to talk about the finale of Bachelor Pad. So to anyone who saw it… what did you think? Honestly, I wish I had secretly taped Sherry’s reaction.